Supreme Court: The bench of MR Shah* and BV Nagarathna , JJ has held that a consent award cannot be the basis to award and/or determine the compensation in other acquisition, more particularly, when there are other evidences on record.

The Court was dealing with a case relating to a land acquired for improvement of Ranganathittu Bird Sanctuary. The Land Acquisition Officer passed an award fixing the market value of the acquired land @ Rs.21,488/- per guntha. The Reference Court enhanced the amount of compensation to Rs.30,49,200/- per acre, i.e., Rs.76,230/- per guntha. The original claimant preferred first appeal before the Karnataka High Court seeking enhancement of the amount of compensation. Relying on a consent award and thereafter on “guesswork”, by the impugned judgment and order the High Court enhanced the amount of compensation to Rs.40 lakhs per acre with all consequential statutory benefits.

The Supreme Court noticed that the consent award relied upon by the High Court was in respect of the property acquired in the year 2011 and which was acquired for a different purpose, namely, for formation of double line railway broad gauge between Bengaluru and Mysore City. However, in the present case, Section 4 notification was issued in the year 2008, i.e., three years before the land acquired in the consent award in question.

Hence, it was held that the High Court ought not to have relied upon the same while determining the market price of the land acquired in 2008 considering the market price determined for the lands acquired in the year 2011 and on the basis of some “guesswork”.

Even otherwise, the Court held that the consent award ought not to have been relied upon and/or considered for the purpose of determining the compensation in case of another acquisition.

“In case of a consent award, one is required to consider the circumstances under which the consent award was passed and the parties agreed to accept the compensation at a particular rate. In a given case, due to urgent requirement, the acquiring body and/or the beneficiary of the acquisition may agree to give a particular compensation.”

[Special Land Acquisition Officer v. N. Savitha, 2022 SCC OnLine SC 339, decided on 22.03.2022]

*Judgment by: Justice MR Shah

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